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1st June 2015

8 ways to drive CRM Adoption. No Sticks Required.

There are various factors that drive CRM success and resulting ROI. But which factors drive the best results?

From my perspective the single and most important driver must be User Adoption. After all, you could invest many thousands in deploying the worlds most advanced CRM solution but, if no one is using it, the ROI is – well – zero.

In relation to this, there are two points that “consultants” often cite that I believe are on weaker foundation now:

1. That Sales people hate using CRM tools. They perceive CRM is ‘Big Brother’; they resent having to take time out to type in endless amounts of data; they find the functionality limiting; and, so on and so forth.

I feel much of this is founded on how CRM applications used to be in days past. After all, most sales folks are generally ‘Type-A’ individuals, highly competitive, and in fact, love using and (often times) showing off their technology. In the old days it was the type of car they drove. Today, it’s what mobile devices they use and the sophistication of technology on them.

2. That a ‘Carrots and Sticks’ approach is the best strategy to encourage user adoption. That is, one where you engage usage by helping users appreciate the benefits; but penalise those that don’t accord with expectations of them.

I accept this strategy works in many organisations. But I’d like to think that most businesses have grown up and out of this by now? A ‘Carrots and Sticks’ approach is often contrived, and can have a direct and potentially negative impact on the culture of the business and its internal dynamic.

In fact many studies have shown that this approach does not produce the best results. A great reference for this is “Carrots and Sticks, don’t work” – a book by Paul Marciano (click here). He argues that the best way to get engagement is through a model he calls RESPECT (aptly named). It encourages you to implement processes that recognise and reward employee contributions; empower staff with tools and information they need to be successful; implement feedback mechanisms with clear action and response; foster collaborative working; set challenging and realisable goals upon mutual agreement; and – fundamentally – build trust.

That said, here are some well tested and practical approaches that many organisations have employed to drive end-user adoption:

1. Lead by example: CRM is a top-down change initiative. If as a leader or manager you don’t use it yourself, don’t expect others to.

2. Engage your users: Not just at the beginning, but throughout the course of the development – and implement effective feedback mechanisms to drive future developments. A User Group, led by a Champion, is a good way of doing this.

3. Take a phased approach: Aligned with point (2). Focus initial phases on delivering to minimum needs that deliver best bang for buck. And then engage feedback (from users, and customers) to drive and influence the scope of future developments and enhancements.

4. Minimise Data Entry overhead: Think hard about what information Management really need for decision-making, and then define the minimum data users need to enter to deliver those metrics. The less time users are spending typing, the more they will be spending ’doing’. Keep it Simple.

5. What’s in it for Me?: Help users understand how the application will help them achieve their objectives (e.g. meeting quotas), and make their life easier (e.g. saving time). This, of course, is traditionally the ‘carrots’ bit.

6. Design for ‘Adoption’: Design the solution so that users have choice in their decision to use it. For example, if invoices can only be raised after Opportunities are closed, then don’t count the sale (towards their Quota) until the required Opportunity information is fully complete and Closed by them.

7. Invest in (continuous) Training. Nuff said.

8. Make it fun: Create “CRM Hero’s” recognise those who, for instance, do the most to keep data up to date, clean and accurate. Encourage and reward positive behaviour. Perhaps also consider implementing a Gamification tool to make the application ‘sticky’ and drive further adoption.

So whilst implementing a powerful CRM application is fundamental, driving CRM adoption (and hence ROI) is more dependent on ‘People’ i.e. us mere mortals, and the culture in which we go about our day-to-day business.

Creating positive, collaborative, motivated and trusted relationships is the best dynamic? In other words – its not about Carrots and Sticks.

Surely, its about Carrots and Carrots?

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